Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Managing whole watersheds for big fish

The Wild Rivers Coast has the opportunity to become one of the West Coast's most important salmon reserves, a concept that could help sustain human communities and salmon and steelhead populations alike. Anglers, guides and organizations like Trout Unlimited have provided a model with a new conservation initiative—the Elk River Watershed Salmon Emphasis Area.  They articulate a bold vision for the future.
"Managing a whole watershed for big fish is also unique.  But our point is that it will help Oregon's economy whether it involves sports fishing or commercial fishing."
Mike Beagle of Trout Unlimited as quoted in the Medford Mail Tribune describing the Elk River proposal. Read more at Sportsmen for the Elk, or the Medford Mail Tribune.

The two other big fish rivers on the Wild Rivers Coast, the Chetco and the Smith Rivers, have larger watersheds but offer similar opportunities to take a whole watershed approach.  Like the Elk they have a high percentage of National Forest lands within their watersheds, they're free flowing from their headwaters to the Pacific and some of the work has already been done.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The legacy of Tom McCall

The Oregon Administrative Rule that's put a hold on mining in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness was established under Governor Tom McCall. It was a time of bold environmental leadership and working across the isle that saw the public's access to Oregon's beaches preserved and the nation's first bottle recycling bill.

A priceless natural heritage—public beach along Southwest
Oregon's Wild Rivers Coast (Photograph - Barbara Ullian)

Clean Water Act puts Kalmiopsis mining plan on hold

A little known Oregon Administrative Rule—established when Tom McCall (R) was Governor and recently brought to light when mining groups sued the State of Oregon—has cast a chill on a Washington company's plans to mine the Wild Chetco River in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.

The exceptional clarity of the Chetco's water in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness may make it impossible to mine in the Wilderness and comply with the Clean Water Act. It has implications for the validity of the three remaining mining claims in the Kalmiopsis, possibly making them worthless. But its up to the State of Oregon and the Forest Service to comply with and defend the Clean Water Act Rule. Zach Collier, Northwest Rafting Company photo.
On April 19, 2011, the Associated Press and Oregonian reported:
The Forest Service has suspended an environmental review of Rutan's gold mining plan [in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness] until he resolves the issue with the state ...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thank federal legislators

Last week, Senator Ron Wyden, Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative Peter DeFazio re-introduced legislation that will increase protection for the National Wild and Scenic Chetco River (outside the Kalmiopsis Wilderness) and for the Oregon Caves National Monument.  Please send a quick "Thank You" email by going to KS Wild and click "Sign Petition."

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Chetco River Protection Act and Oregon Caves Revitalization Act of 2011 Introduced in Congress

Wild and Scenic Chetco River that would be reclassified
as "Wild" under CRP Act.  Photo USDA Forest Service.
Senator Ron Wyden, Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative Peter DeFazio re-introduced the Chetco River Protection Act (CRP Act) on April 7th. The Act is in good company—part of a package of three bills that includes the Devil's Staircase Wilderness Act and the Oregon Caves Revitalization Act. The latter would establish a 4,000 acre Natural Preserve in the Lake and Cave Creek watersheds on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest east of Cave Junction, Oregon.

Lake Creek provides the drinking water for the National Park Service's facilities at the Oregon Caves National Monument.  Cave Creek originates as the River Styx deep within the Oregon Caves.  It exits at the main entrance of the caves and then flows under the historic Chateau to emerge below. The Preserve will be managed by the Park Service.